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Hike the Craggy Gardens Trail, climbing through a beautiful high-elevation forest filled with blooming rhododendron, wild blueberries and wildflowers to stunning summit views just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

georgia hiking trails: 0-2 miles 1.9 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: easyeasy to
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, NC

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Asheville Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 779 Trails Illustrated Map

RATED: 4.8/5 (10 reviews)

It takes but a few steps on this trail before the realization sets in: this forest is both strikingly unique and stunningly beautiful. Craggy Gardens is a knobby, rocky, rhododendron-covered forest located on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville. Tall grasses, tall wildflowers and copious amounts of wild blueberries cover enormous, sunlight-drenched mountain balds. Rhododendrons bloom brilliantly in abundant, colorful displays. And twisted, gnarled trees shade rare plants in this high-elevation wonderland.

Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway

This hike climbs from the Blue Ridge Parkway, trekking through a beautiful forest to a grassy summit meadow. At the summit, blooming rhododendron are abundant in June, and blueberries and blackberries are plentiful in late summer months. And views are plentiful, too. Departing the summit, the hike dips through a lush forest of gnarled trees to a grassy picnic area and then retraces back to visitor center. It’s a great hike and makes a great setting for a cool, breezy summertime picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hike the Craggy Gardens Trail, climbing through a beautiful high-elevation forest filled with blooming rhododendron, wild blueberries and wildflowers to stunning summit views just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. #hiking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Craggy Gardens: the hike

The hike departs from a signed trailhead at the visitor center, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 364 (view maps and driving directions). The trail departs from the southern end of the parking area, climbing and winding through a lush, green, rocky forest filled with gnarly-branched rhododendron.

The trail meanders as it climbs, soon passing the trailhead of the Douglas Falls Trail at under .1 mile. The trail climbs steadily, sunlight filtering through the dense, low forest canopy. The trail reaches a picnic pavilion at .25 mile.

A side trail hikes south from the pavilion, trekking through the summit’s vast, open, grassy expanses to patches of wildflowers and scattered old, gnarly-branched hardwoods. Beyond the stretches of the high-elevation meadow, views of the surrounding rolling mountains of the Pisgah National Forest extend far onto the horizon. Craggy Pinnacle is the nearby prominent peak to the northeast, and the Black Mountain Range, including the highest mountains east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig, are visible to the distant northwest.

Craggy Gardens Trail

A maze of trails explores the sun-drenched summit. A loop to the summit overlook and back to the pavilion spans just over a quarter mile. After returning to the wood pavilion, the hike continues following the trail westbound, veering to the northwest. The hike climbs through a small clearing at .6 mile before darting back into the forest, passing dense thickets of blueberry bushes that burst with bountiful berries in mid to late summer.

Gnarly, twisted trees, tall grasses, and colorful wildflowers fill the forest. A short side trail departs on the left at .75 mile, looping to a wooden gazebo before rejoining the main trail. The trail continues its westerly trek, winding through the forest and dropping elevation. The trail reaches the picnic area at just over 1 mile, the end point of this hike. The picnic area makes a great mid-hike resting spot and venue for a mid-hike snack. (It’s also a great alternate trailhead for this hike, especially when the visitor’s center parking area fills up.)

Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Departing the picnic area, the hike flips in reverse, retracing its outbound steps through the rhododendron-filled forest, crossing through the summit area. Sunlight filters through the Catawba rhododendron canopy, warming the forest in golden hues.

Descending from the summit, the hike reaches the visitor’s center parking area at just under 1.9 miles, completing the hike.

More Craggy hiking adventures

The views on the nearby (but slightly more difficult) Craggy Pinnacle Trail are a can’t-miss, and it’s one of our all-time favorite places to catch a sunset near Asheville. The trail climbs through a dense canopy of twisted rhododendron to a steep, rocky summit where views are incredible and wide.


Craggy Gardens Trail Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.8/5 (10 reviews)

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the visitor center (MP 364) or picnic area (MP 367.6) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)


GPS Coordinates

35.699383, -82.380089     //     N35 41.964 W82 22.806

Elevation Profile

Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Elevation Profile
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.